HomeBad Ass AsiansESPN's Stephen A. Smith apologizes for criticizing Shohei Ohtani

ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith apologizes for criticizing Shohei Ohtani

ESPN television host Stephen A. Smith apologized for comments he made about Japanese baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani on his First Take show on Monday.

Ohtani is a pitcher and outfielder for the Los Angeles Angels. The American League MVP favorite uses an interpreter for media appearances due to his limited English proficiency.

While many other MLB stars, such as Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Hyun Jin Ryu and Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., use interpreters, Smith declared that Ohtani employing one means he should not be the league’s flagship player.

In fact, Smith mused, Ohtani’s exceptional fame may even be hurting Major League Baseball.

“The fact that you got a foreign player that doesn’t speak English, believe it or not, I think contributes to harming the game to some degree, when that’s your box office appeal,” Smith said. “It needs to be somebody like Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, those guys.”

“When you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube, or to the ballpark, to actually watch you,” Smith continued a few minutes later, “I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in this country.”

Smith went on to praise NBA stars Dirk Nowitzki and Manu Ginobili as examples of foreign born players who could speak fluent English. In contrast, he said, Ohtani is limited in his ability to “ingratiate” himself with American baseball fans, according to USA Today.

Smith’s colleagues, Max Kellerman and Molly Qerim Rose, tried to soften his comments, with Kellerman agreeing that speaking fluent English would be useful for Ohtani and Rose praising Ohtani’s league-leading home runs as speaking volumes on their own.

Smith later posted multiple clarifications and follow-ups to his thoughts on Twitter, according to The Hill. He ultimately apologized for his words.

“In this day and age, with all the violence being perpetrated against the Asian Community, my comments — albeit unintentional — were clearly insensitive and regrettable,” Smith wrote. “There’s simply no other way to put it. I’m sincerely sorry for any angst I’ve caused.”

AsAmNews has Asian America in its heart. We’re an all-volunteer effort of dedicated staff and interns. Check out our new Instagram account. Go to our Twitter feed and Facebook page for more content. Please consider interning, joining our staff, or submitting a story or making a contribution.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Worth the Time

Must Read

Regular Features


Discover more from AsAmNews

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading